Metro Detroiters vow to ‘never forget’ on 9/11

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News

Detroit — With flags raised and a salute from the men and women in blue, Detroit honored the lives lost 16 years ago in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A solemn, memorial service took place at Campus Martius with appearances from Mayor Mike Duggan, Police Chief James Craig and other city officials.

Police officers and firefighters in uniform surrounded the park as the national anthem was sang and a motorcade circled the area.

Nearly 3,000 people died on that day in New York, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Many of those deaths included firefighters, police and emergency medical workers.

Craig said after the 9/11 attacks, “our nation was paralyzed with fear and doubt.”

“Certainly our nation has experienced immeasurable tragedies that rocked us to our core,” Craig said. “This (9/11) event only fortified our commitment to the liberty of our fellow Americans.”

The Campus Martius event was one of many Patriot Day ceremonies held across Metro Detroit on Monday. In Sterling Heights, a similar event took place outside City Hall.

Speakers at the Detroit ceremony noted the 16th anniversary of 9/11 is coinciding with recovery efforts from devastating hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

A group of Detroit police officers traveled to Texas to deliver packages and offer aid, Craig said.

Mayor Mike Duggan honored police, firefighters and EMT who risk their lives responding to terrorism and natural disasters across the country.

He cited recent incidents, including Houston Police Sgt. Steve Perez who drowned in Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters. Duggan also mentioned the two Florida police officers who were killed in a Hurricane Irma evacuation zone crash.

“They lost their lives doing what they loved,” Duggan said.

Duggan touted the city’s improvements to public safety such as reductions in homicides and carjackings and faster EMT response times.

David Gelios, a special agent in charge for the Detroit division of the FBI, noted Michigan has prosecuted several people who plotted to commit acts of terrorism in the last year.

“No one agency or department working alone can defeat terrorism,” Gelios said. “This is a battle we must wage together.”

Monday’s ceremony was emotional for some spectators who left their jobs downtown to attend.

Jennifer Williams of Garden City shed a few tears as she reflected on the lives lost on 9/11.

Williams was a college student when she saw news of the attacks on TV. She said she was in “pure shock” that it could happen in her lifetime.

“Other things that happened we never were around for, but this happened when we were here,” Williams said. “I think you have to move forward. But you never forget.”

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Twitter: @NicquelTerry